Trip Start May 01, 2005
Trip End Jun 04, 2005

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Wednesday, May 4, 2005

On Wednesday it was time to go to Nanaimo and meet up with our friends Jude and Richard, but before that, at 8am, we went down to the hotel lobby to have breakfast. For the price of eight dollars we were presented with a good breakfast consisting of scrambled egg, hash browns (quite different to what we are used to in Australia as these are basically fried potato pieces), ham and toast. Orange juice, coffee and jam completed the spread. We went back to our room to pack our suitcases and checked out around eleven. It was a nine block walk down to the harbour and as we had plenty of time and our suitcases were fitted out with wheels we decided that we didn't need a taxi and we set out on foot. We arrived at the ferry terminal with no mishaps, though a few people looked at us dragging our suitcases along the footpath with rucksacks on our backs no doubt wondering where these "tramps" were off to! At the terminal we had a bit of a wait for our ferry to depart but the time went quickly and before long we were on board ready for the 80 minute cruise to Vancouver Island. The sea was calm though there was not much to see as we were surrounded in mist for most of the way but the seating was comfortable, with plenty of legroom, and there were interesting passengers to chat to during the trip across. 

As we approached the jetty in Nanaimo we spotted Jude and Richard, who were waiting for us and they gave us a welcoming wave as soon as they saw us. What excitement, as we hadn't seen them since we all left Rhodesia about 35 years before and their welcome made us feel very happy. Once all our greetings were over, Jude and Richard took us across the road to the hotel where they had booked a room for us. The Dorchester is an elegant older hotel with lovely furnishings and decor. Our room was just perfect with a Queen size bed, settee and a large chest of drawers for our goods and chattels. Jude had stocked the fridge with cereal, milk and dried fruit as well as placing on the table a bowl of fresh fruit and a beautiful vase of tulips with a welcoming card. Mike and Danielle, to whose wedding we had come, had placed a welcoming pack for us with information that we would need over the coming days. We left our suitcases in the room and went down the passage to meet Danielle and Horst, friends of Jude, whom we also knew from our Rhodesian days. After the re-introductions were over we went downstairs where Horst had parked his car and we followed Richard to Michael's home where a family get together was taking place. There were plenty of drinks and snacks to keep us occupied until Mike lit his BBQ and cooked chicken and beef burgers for all the guests. Dinner over, a fire was lit in the middle of the  lawn and all the guests sat around, sipped their drinks and chatted while getting to know each other. Danielle's father got out his guitar and sang to entertain us and around 10pm we returned to our room, unpacked and soon fell asleep.

On Thursday 5th May we got up early and at 7am Mike went with Horst, who had kindly offered to drive him to the local airport to pick up our hire car, as arranged with our travel agent Katherin back home in Perth. When we arrived at the airport there was no one there and we found out that they only opened at eight so we waited around for the lady to arrive. The paper work was completed and we took possession of a Honda Civic to use for the next five weeks. Danielle and Horst had planned to visit the Butchart Gardens further down the Island near the capital city of British Columbia, Victoria. As we also wanted to visit the gardens they suggested that we all go together so at half past eight we set off. All went well until we reached Victoria and missed the turnoff, getting hopelessly lost.  Eventually we decided we should buy a road map and turned into the nearest garage to see what they had to offer. New road map in hand,  we were about to head off towards Sidney, where the gardens are actually situated, when we decided it was so close to lunchtime that we should eat first. So we went into Victoria, found a restaurant where for $7.50 we had a good lunch of Bolognese pie and salad and salmon in filo pastry. Sidney here we come and after following the map we eventually found the gardens which, considering its world famous reputation, was not well signposted. The sun was shining and the gardens, which were developed by Jenny Ross in 1904 around a disused quarry, were magnificent. We split up with Danielle and Horst and arranged to meet them in a couple of hours. We could not believe how many different plants were growing there with species from all parts of the world and the grounds were immaculate. We wondered how many gardeners were employed to keep it in such good condition. The water features and Japanese gardens stood out from the rest although all of the displays were extremely well presented. At four o'clock we met up again with Danielle and Horst and started our journey back to Nanaimo, stopping at the town of Chemainus to admire the many murals painted on the town's buildings depicting early settlement in the area. Arriving back at the hotel we were tired after the long and fun packed day. Mike went to bed after looking at our photos on the Rooms TV and Margaret tidied up and wrote postcards to our family back home before going to sleep.

Friday 6th May dawned and for breakfast we had some of the cereal that Jude had so thoughtfully placed in our room. Last minute chores had to be done in preparation for the big day tomorrow so there was a lot of running around the rest of the day. We drove down to the local shops to buy a box to put our wedding present in and a wedding card for Mike and Danielle. We returned to the hotel where Mike proceeded to wrap the present while Margaret waited in the foyer, talking to Horst and Danielle, until Jude arrived. Margaret and Jude went off to buy some flowers (sunflowers and proteas) for decorations and also to the fishing harbour to pick up urns which they dropped off at the house. Mike met up with Richard who took him up to the college to pick up snacks prepared for the celebrations and to admire the magnificent views over Nanaimo and the sea. Today was the day for the wedding rehearsal late afternoon so the immediate family and bridal party went off to do their thing. Mike, Margaret and Tammy set up a table with cups and plates ready for when they came back and then sat in the sun on the lawned area talking until the others returned. Many people dropped in for a drink and snacks and lots of chatting took place. Mrs McEwen and Jan arrived and we were very pleased to see them looking so well. Richard put a large salmon wrapped in foil with butter and lemon onto the BBQ and Jude cooked a whole pile of prawns to accompany the wine and add to the feast. Most of the guests had left by 10pm when Judy drove us back to the hotel.

After breakfast on the day of the wedding we walked the short distance to Jude's house where Mike and Richard did a few things for the wedding and Margaret, Jude and Tammy headed off to the hairdresser at Parksville, 32 kilometres down the road. Although it didn't seem that long, they were actually away for four and a half hours! It was then back to the hotel for a quick change before going off to the wedding. Our transport arrived at 2.50pm and we drove off to Lantzville where the delightful little 'Reformed Church of Canada' was situated. It was an old church building of wood with lovely, but a bit uncomfortable, wooden pews. The church was decorated with superb flowers which incorporated flowers from the old country including flame lillies. The Pastor displayed a good sense of humour when he spoke and there was no singing but there was a short sermon and some bible readings. As expected, the bride was dressed in the most beautiful white gown and the attendants both male and female wore black. After the marriage service ended we all went outside to wish the happy couple on their way. Bubble soap was provided in place of confetti so that there would not be a huge mess to clean up afterwards as is the trend these days.

Next stop was the  Pepperpot B and B where a large Marquee had been erected for the reception. Large gas heaters were dotted around in case the weather turned chilly as it was still early in the year and anything could have happened. It was a beautiful night, the speaches went off without a hitch and anybody who wanted to say something had the opportunity. The meal of rare beef, shrimp salad, vegetables and green salads was superb and the four tier cake with coconut and delicious strawberries was equally good. The band was great playing music for all tastes. Drinking, laughing and dancing went on until 1130 and it was lots of fun. We went back to the Dorchester at midnight and slept until 8am when we were woken up by a call from Lesley wishing Margaret a happy mothers day.

As we were now wide awake, we found the name of a local church in a directory and phoned their contact to enquire about their Sunday services. Thankfully we called early enough to get ready and make it just in time. The building was really nice and the sermon good. After the service we stopped for a cup of tea and spoke to a few members of the congregation. As we were leaving the next day on our trip around the state we decided that we should catch up with our washing so went out to look for a laundromat. We found one that also had internet facilities so while our washing was tumbling around in the washer and driers we caught up with some correspondence and emailed a few friends as well as writing some postcards. By the time this was all done it was afternoon and we went down to Jude and Richard's house and joined them for afternoon tea. Danielle and Horst and two of Danielle and Mike's friends joined us. Danielle and Horst were leaving to return to South Africa so we said our goodbyes before Jude and Richard drove us just out of town to look at the small holding which they had recently bought and where they were going to build their dream house. The block was rather overgrown but Richard has the expertise and the equipment to clear it and being an engineer, to organise a road etc to make the place more accessible. After an hour or so wandering around we went back to town where Jude had organised a pasta dinner with more of their friends, namely Denis, Toby and Tammy.

Monday 9th May we packed our bags and booked out of the Dorchester Hotel and went down to say goodbye to Jude and Richard as we were now on our way to Whistler and the start of our trip around British Columbia. After phoning Cecil and Linda in Zimbabwe, who were unable to travel to the wedding,  and packing some waterproof jackets which were loaned to us, we said goodbye and drove down to Departure Bay where we found the Ferry Terminal. After buying tickets for the car and us which  cost us about $50 dollars, we joined the queue in row 15 and waited to get the signal to board. We bought a ham and salad roll as we didn't know when next we would eat and waited just over an hour in sunny weather before getting on the ship. The ride to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland took an hour and a half. The boat had lots of passengers and cars aboard and quite a few different decks which Margaret enjoyed exploring. A map was purchased on board ready for when we hit the highway on the other side. Getting off the boat at Horseshoe Bay took awhile because of the number of cars on board but we sat and relaxed while waiting and before too long we were driving up the road towards Whistler. The road was interesting with cuts through the mountains and steep cliffs right down to the roadside. Some roadworks were in progress in preparation for the winter Olympics that were due to take place in a couple of years at Whistler. The pleasant drive in good weather made our first trip easy and we drove into Whistler and found Chalet Luise in Ambassador Crescent, on White Gold Estate, easily.
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